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Excellence Katharina Review

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Aaron Saunders
Senior Editor, News and Features

The sleek, red-hulled Excellence Katharina is one of the few river cruise ships on the waterways of Russia to offer balcony accommodations, thanks to a refit a few years back that converted unused deck space into private verandas.

Capable of carrying 184 passengers, Excellence Katharina offers larger and more lavish accommodations than some of Imperial River Cruises' other ships. Most rooms onboard are suites that range between 237 and 495 square feet.

Public rooms include a forward-facing bar and lounge, an upper deck lecture hall and bar, and an aft-facing main restaurant.


Excellence Katharina primarily serves up a mix of Russian specialties and international favorites for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Alcoholic beverages can be purchased at mealtimes for an additional cost.


As one of Imperial River Cruises' deluxe ships, most accommodations aboard Excellence Katharina are suites with private balconies. This is something of a rarity on the waterways of Russia, where riverview staterooms with picture windows are still largely the norm.

Deluxe Staterooms are the only nonsuite accommodations onboard. Found on the Main Deck and the Upper Deck, these rooms range in size from 140 to 151 square feet and offer a panoramic window that can be opened, along with a queen-size bed that can be split into two doubles. A small dressing table and a desk area is adjacent to a flat-panel TV, and the room is also stocked with a hair dryer, telephone, safe and a modern bathroom with stand-up shower. Power is of the European two-pronged 220V variety, so North American cruisers will need to bring an adapter. All cabins onboard are individually climate-controlled.

Balcony Junior Suites are the most common type of accommodation aboard Excellence Katharina, with 51 rooms spread across the Boat Deck and the Upper Deck. These 236-square-foot rooms offer a private balcony accessed by a sliding glass door and a small sitting area with a coffee table and two chairs. A dressing table and a padded stool are also featured. Junior Suites offer a queen-sized bed that can convert into two twins in some, but not all, rooms. Imperial doesn't note which rooms offer convertible beds on the deck plan for Excellence Katharina, so it's best to inquire first before booking.

There is one Mini Suite onboard Excellence Katharina, located on the Boat Deck. This room offers a private balcony with chairs and a table, a sitting area inside with two chairs and a coffee table, and a queen-size bed. This room offers a telephone, flat-panel TV, safe, hair dryerand in-room coffee machine. It measures 345 square feet.

Two forward-facing Panorama Suites offer even more living space, coupled with an expansive balcony that wraps attractively around the bow of the ship. At 442 square feet, these two Panorama Suites offer a separate anteroom and dressing room, and a sitting area adjacent to the queen-size bed, which cannot be separated. These rooms feature a telephone, flat-panel TV, safe, hair dryer and in-room coffee machine, in addition to private washroom facilities.

The top-of-the-line accommodations aboard the Excellence Katharina are the nine Suites located on the Boat Deck. These 495-square-foot rooms offer a queen-size bed (convertible into two twins in some cabins only), a spacious seating area with sofa and a coffee table, a large private balcony, and an anteroom and dressing area. Each suite offers a modern bathroom and amenities like telephone, flat-panel TV, safe, hair dryer and in-room coffee maker.

Top Deck Attractions

The uppermost Sun Deck aboard Excellence Katharina offers an indoor conference center and bar along with plenty of outdoor seating and viewing areas.


Most entertainment aboard Excellence Katharina revolves around onboard lectures on history and culture, language lessonsand select evening entertainment. Most passengers are content to spend time ashore or relax onboard with a good book. At night, the ship becomes more social as passengers converse over drinks.


Excellence Katharina operates itineraries between Moscow and St. Petersburg.


Passengers: 184
Crew: 98
Passenger to Crew: 1.88:1

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